THE CRISIS OF SOCIAL CONFIDENCE TOWARD COURTS
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One of the most striking changes we have already observed in the Polish society is a rapid decrease of social confidence toward courts and judges. As some studies have revealed, society under communism and during the first decade after its collapse had a rather positive attitude toward courts. That attitude towards judicial practice became increasingly critical at the end of nineties when the percentage of positive opinions of judicial decisions dropped to the level below 60%. A 2000 study carried out on a national sample by a group of scholars from the Department of the Sociology of Law of the Jagiellonian University indicated that only 29% of Poles positively evaluated decisions in civil courts and only 24% of them thought that sentences in criminal courts were fair. The respondents indicated the following as most significant reasons for injustice in courts: corruption (involving judges, prosecutors, solicitors in particular as well as court officials), bad, unfair law, distressing delay in adjudication and political preassure exerted on judges. The explanation of this apparent paradox - little social confidence in court and judges in the democratic Poland - lies probably not so much in the individual experience with courts but is created by the way in which media present courts and judges, very often concentrating on the negative aspects of their activity. According to majority of judges who took part in the study of 2000, journalists who work as intermediaries between the court and society are often unwilling to present objective or positive aspects of court activity. It should be noted that such, not always just, criticism can undermine the social confidence toward administration of justice and thus to the whole social order.
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